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Ireland leapfrog England in world rankings ahead of Twickenham showdown

16 March 2018

You'd think it would sell itself.

"Ireland are preparing for a Grand Slam, they don't need any extra motivation", said Jones at England's Bagshot training base on Thursday.

But at the same time it is believable.

England has lost back-to-back games, against Scotland and France.

The England coach back in charge, although later qualification would come that World Rugby had royally messed up.

However, should England do to Ireland what the Irish did to them, they would not only prevent a grand slam but could haul themselves up to second, depending on the Wales v France result.

"There's a sense of anticipation, there's a sense of nervousness".

Iain Henderson's selection in the second row is the only change to the side that accounted for Scotland last time out.

That pair will face the in-form Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton, who will, as usual have a huge bearing on the outcome.

Jones had made seven personnel changes and three positional switches to the team beaten 22-16 by France in Paris last weekend in the most radical shake-up of his England reign. Obviously, it's no secret that it's a big one but we've trained like we do every week and we're staying focused on the task in hand and the process.

"He brings energy and enthusiasm, he's a tough guy and he's a good captain - that's what he will bring to the team on Saturday".

"Then you've just got to come on and fit into the intensity of the game". "And the team feels the same way".

Dan Cole and Joe Launchbury, mainstays of England's starting line-up past year, have been replaced by Kyle Sinckler and George Kruis respectively, while Dylan Hartley is restored to his role as captain after passing a fitness test on Wednesday to prove he has recovered from his calf injury.

"It's definitely been a roller coaster year for me".

John Hayes told RTÉ Sport that he is not anxious one jot about Ireland.

"I was in the stadium and facing O'Gara as he hit that drop-goal", said Ryan, of Ireland's 2009 Grand Slam triumph in Cardiff. I still think they're a really, really good side that can be very risky.

Evidently, the ability of the replacements to be up to the pace of the game as soon as they were introduced made a massive difference to how Ireland finished the game last Saturday, comfortably out of sight. "Those sorts of things happen, I will let Eddie take care of that in his own press conference".

Angus Gardner of Australia will take charge of proceedings tomorrow.

"And what's at stake is a fantastic opportunity, not just to achieve a Grand Slam, but to go a year unbeaten". That would be a bit of a crushing scenario.

"Without a doubt this is my testing time here and it's going to be good for us". It's a very healthy place for the team to occupy.

An RFU spokeswoman said: "Eddie has apologised for his inappropriate remarks, and the RFU is also very sorry for any offence caused and will apologise to the IRFU and WRU".

Ireland leapfrog England in world rankings ahead of Twickenham showdown